College Sports

2 teams in NCAA finals is a good thing. Ask UConn

Ryan Boatright, left, and Breanna Stewart of the University of Connecticut Huskies
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For the second time in 10 years, the University of Connecticut is sending both its men's and women's basketball teams to the NCAA finals.

And that means this year's Huskies squads are again likely to be a boon for the university and its bottom line.

"It's infinitely priceless," said Mike Enright, associate director of athletics for communications at UConn, referencing the Huskies' Final Four appearances. "It brings great notoriety for the teams, but it also brings great notoriety for the university."

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Enright said that based on observation from the 2004 season, when the Huskies sent both teams to the Final Four and won both championship titles, higher merchandise sales on items like T-shirts and caps will likely be one of the most tangible effects of the increased attention.

"We saw a doubling of our money resulting from the licensing of our goods," he said. "We doubled it from approximately half a million to $1 million."

Next season's ticket sales and prices could also see a boost, said Chris Matcovich, vice president of data and communications at TiqIQ.

"You'll see an initial bump at the beginning of the season for early conference matchups," said Matcovich. "It definitely increases the level of enthusiasm."

There may also be an increase in financial contributions from alumni, said UConn's Enright. The school currently has an annual athletics budget of $62 million.

NCAA final game: UConn vs. Kentucky

Winning brackets may even translate into a larger applicant pool, he said.

"We always look at athletics as the front door for UConn," said Enright. "We hope that through this a lot of people learn about our university."

However, David Carter, professor of sports business at the University of Southern California's Marshall School of Business, cautions that any basketball-generated spike in university applications may come with a question mark attached to its quality.

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"You sit back and wonder, 'Gee, if that spike is due to athletic performance, are these students really academically inclined?'" said Carter. "These may not be the kinds of students that these universities really want, and that's a concern that a lot of schools have."

For UConn, though, such concerns would likely be minor, said Patrick Rishe, associate professor of economics at Webster University. While UConn's tournament wins may boost application numbers slightly, the university won't likely experience the kind of boost that universities with lower profiles have generated through unexpected athletic success.

"These spikes are probably going to be larger for schools that have not had that level of success previously," said Rishe. "For instance, the University of Dayton reached the Elite Eight. You would expect schools like that to have spikes because many had not heard of them before."

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Spikes in university applications and enrollment stemming from athletics has become known as the "Flutie effect," originating with the stunning, Doug Flutie-led football victory for Boston College over the defending national champions, the Miami Hurricanes, in 1984. Boston College reportedly saw a dramatic increase in applications for the following academic year.

"The Flutie effect only happens when you have a school that is a true Cinderella story, like Butler, George Washington, and VCU," said Rishe, referencing tournament underdogs from recent years. "UConn's women's program is always good, and the men's basketball program has been good for the past 20 years. They're both blue-blood college basketball programs."

—By CNBC's Adam Molon